Canadian Manufacturing

Top 10 reasons businesses get clean

by Susan Sheehan   

Sustainability Energy

McKinsey report shows a green growth strategy provides long-term competitive advantage

The just released annual McKinsey study reveals the top 10 reasons companies are taking sustainability action:

1. Reduce energy
2. Reduce waste
3. Manage corporate reputation for sustainability
4. Respond to regulatory constraints or opportunities
5. Reduce emissions
6. Manage portfolio to capture trends in sustainability
7. Reduce water use in operations
8. Commit R&D resources to sustainable products
9. Manage the impact of products throughout the value chain
10. Mitigate operational risk related to climate change

Source: The Business of Sustainability—McKinsey Global Survey Results

As you can see, the top two reasons align with operational efficiency, which is where companies often experience immediate cash paybacks on their efforts.


What’s more interesting are the clues to how companies achieve long-term competitive advantage from sustainability.

The study found those committing R&D to developing sustainable products, or who leveraged their existing sustainability to find new revenues, claimed to be better at sustainability than their competitors. The trend suggests a focus on growth activities, rather than operational activities, is more likely to give you long-term competitive advantage.

There are countless examples of companies proving the point. Keep watching this blog for Canadian case studies.

Susan Sheehan, president and CEO of Leapfrog Sustainability Inc., has 20 years experience in clean technology and sustainability strategies. An invited speaker in North America, Europe and Asia, she is also a columnist, a presenter for the Climate Change Institute, and a certified CSR Practitioner. Susan has worked with companies such as Philips Lighting, Ingersoll Rand, Haremar Plastics Inc., BASF, Canadian Standards Association, Tembec, Queens School of Business, and Rotman School of Management. She can be reached at (416) 479-4266 or


Stories continue below